“Claude, you will not see the bride before she walks in!” Hilda barks at Claude for what feels like the hundredth time as she catches him trying to sneak in the room where Byleth is getting ready. “Get out of here before I chop off your favorite toy and ruin Byleth’s honeymoon.”
“Now, there’s no need to get aggressive, is there?” Claude tries to laugh it off but it’s clear as day from the way his stance shifts that he’s taking her threats very seriously.
But as he turns to try and make his escape back to the dining hall, a very smiley and a very annoyed Raphael and Lorenz block his exit.
“What exactly made you think you will marry Byleth dressed like that?” Lorenz interrupts Raphael’s warm-hearted exchange with nothing but sheer exasperation on his voice.
Letting out a deep breath, Hilda drops the axe she was wielding menacingly moments ago and smiles at the guys. “Good, you’re here. Could you please drag Claude’s sorry ass out of here? I need to check on Byleth.”
Not waiting for their reply, she storms off down the hall.
“I just wanted to talk with my fiancée, is that some sort of crime?” Claude tries to sound nonchalant, but it’s to no avail.
“I’m not sure you grasp the magnitude of the event that’s about to unfold!” Shaking his head, Lorenz, motions Raphael to grab Claude and start leading him away as they walk back to his room to finish getting him ready.
“This wedding is not only your joyous and, might I add, much delayed love union with Byleth, but also the joining of two great nations! Fódlan and Almyra were never amicable to each other, but that is bound to change with a romantic union of the leader of our free nation and the King of Almyra. You ought to show some respect and dignity to carry out your duties today!
“Besides, how do you think Byleth would feel if she could see just how little you seem to care to your appearance for today? Oh my, is that sauce I see on your shirt? Claude, this is unacceptable!
“Have you any idea what it would look like if…”
Lorenz keeps talking until they get there, all the way on the other side of the Monastery, but doesn’t seem to realize Claude, thrown over Raphael’s shoulder for good measure, has fallen asleep to the sound of his nagging, and only wakes up when Raphael puts him down non-ceremoniously on the chair while Lorenz hits his closet to find something he deems suitable for Claude to wear for his wedding.
Meanwhile, Hilda deals with something she never expected to see.
“What if he doesn’t show up? Or worse, if he says no? Or that it was all just a joke? What if he doesn’t really love me and this is just an overelaborated prank?”
Byleth is pacing around so fast that Hilda is having a hard time believing her former Professor even has the ability to talk so much and so fast all at once.
“Byleth, will you just calm down?” She storms up to the bride, stopping her at once and proceeding to fix the diadem on her hair.
“But Hilda, I-”
“I know, I know. It all seems very easy until it gets down to it, right? You get all these doubts and uncertainties and it makes you want to run far, far away and never look back.” Byleth nods slowly, biting down on her lip so hard she can almost taste the metal on her blood. “I’ve been there, remember? And you were there to knock some sense into me while I was already getting my wyvern ready to fly away.”
They both laugh softly at the memory. It is true, Byleth can still remember the tears on Hilda’s eyes as she questioned all she and her now husband ever went through and whether she was forcing him into their marriage.
“I was silly for doubting then, and you’re being even more now.” Gently pushing Byleth back to the chair, Hilda grabs some makeup and starts giving her some finishing touches. “My husband is a bit slow on that aspect, we both know that. But Claude’s different. He never hid how much he cares for you, nor how much he loves you.”
Byleth sighs, a small smile tugging the corners of her lips, and Hilda feels a pride tug on her now very pregnant belly. She was making her little boy proud by soothing his godmother at this time of need.
“I was outside kicking him out of here because he couldn’t stand not to see you until the ceremony, you know? He’s with Lorenz and Raphael now, and we both know those two won’t let anything happen to our boy. You can rest assured that he’ll be on that altar, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was already there, honestly.”
“It’s just… there’s so much that could go wrong.”
“Well, it wouldn’t be a Golden Deer wedding if it all ran smoothly. We are quite the troublemakers, Professor.”
Winking mischievously at Byleth, Hilda focuses on finishing her makeup, the ceremony is just around the corner, and everything better be working out because she will not run around to fix everyone’s mess with a belly this big.
But she’d sure as hell make her husband do it.
As Hilda turns around to grab a different lip tint color, Byleth seems to gather her strength and rushes what’s been eating at her from the inside.
“Hilda, there’s something I haven’t told anyone yet…”
Finally, it’s time.
Claude can’t stop fidgeting on the altar, counting the seconds until Byleth walks through the Cathedral’s door. He hasn’t seen her all day, and ever since he came back, he’s tried to hear her laugh at least once a day. But today when he woke up, she was already gone, and the guys were already ready to drag him all around until the ceremony.
He managed to sneak away a few times, but a very pregnant and menacing Hilda blocked his every attempt at seeing his fiancée.
They lived in Derdriu but decided to hold the wedding on the Monastery for several reasons. It was here they shared their first kiss, all those years ago before the battle where Byleth disappeared. It was here where they were reunited, where they shared their first touches, where he heard her cries of pleasure for the first time, where they declared their love for each other… and where he proposed before leaving for Almyra.
He looks around the room and sees all of their friends sitting there, eager to see their union at long last, all happy smiles and teary eyes.
Dorothea, Manuela and Annette are next to the piano, ready to sing the entrance song when Byleth walks in.
Everyone attended, there are Blue Lions, Black Eagles and Golden Deers spread out, sitting next to each other… Claude can’t help but feel proud of his soon-to-be wife.
She really did help create a unified Fódlan, if you look at everyone on this room, you’d never say they weren’t always united.
He wishes, however, that Dimitri and Dedue could’ve been here. Even Edelgard and Hubert… but he knows that they’d be proud of what he and Byleth are accomplishing in Fódlan, and it brings a smile to his face.
Even the Almyrans have showed up for his wedding, some of them even mingling and chatting with the guests from Fódlan – the way it’s supposed to be. Looking at his parents sitting on the end of the front row, he can’t help but feel his heart break a bit.
Byleth doesn’t have any blood relatives left. He knows she still thinks of Jeralt, she told him as much, and every time he sees that forlorn look on her eyes when she visits his grave when they come to the monastery, he swears over and over again that he’ll give her the biggest and happiest family she’s ever seen.
Lorenz shifts next to him, and he notices he’s making room for Hilda to get on the other side of the altar as the maid of honor usually does. He also notices Seteth and Lorenz are quirking their eyebrows at Hilda, which he soon does too when he sees the huge smile that’s on her face.
Claude’s question dies on his lips when the huge doors crack open, and the music starts playing.
The sun is shining bright, and it causes a halo of light to surround Byleth’s white dress as she steps on the threshold.
By all the Gods in this world, how is it that she’s looking even more beautiful than usual? Claude asks himself, all else forgotten. There’s a certain… glow on her, he can’t look away. Is it magic? It must be.
As Byleth walks in on Alois’s arm, he only partially notices how the old man is bawling his eyes out. He remembers how emotional he got when Byleth asked him to walk her on the aisle as her father figure. And he’s sure the song the girls are singing is very emotional and has nice lyrics, but he can’t hear them. He can’t see anyone else.
All he sees is Byleth.
All he feels is love.
All he wants is to hold her in his arms and swear before every God and Goddess out there that he will never let her go again, that his life is hers and that he promises to spend eternity making her happier each day.
Her hair cascades down her back in soft curls, the golden diadem crowning her head making her look like a Queen, his Queen. And her dress hugs her every curve, making her look so tempting it should be a sin to walk in a church like that.
When she reaches the altar, he’s dazzled by her smile, by the sheer love that’s on her eyes, a look he’s sure is a clear reflection of his. Claude’s hardly able to spare a glance to Alois when he takes Byleth’s hands in his, but he’s sure the man didn’t notice through all the tears on his face.
Seteth begins the ceremony, a mix of Fódlan and Almyran traditions, and Claude’s sure it must be lovely, but he can’t stop looking at Byleth, and she can’t stop looking at him. It’s only when it’s time for his vows that he finds his voice again.
“I vow to love you, protect you, and stand by you. Now and forever. My anamchara, I will never leave you, for my life is yours and without you I can’t ever be. I never thought I’d need someone as much as I need you, and never have I thought that I’d enjoy sharing so much of myself, my dreams and my life with someone. Thank you for trusting me, for being my friend, for being my teach, and for being my love. I promise to give you all I am, and to be your friend, your lover, and your family. Now and forever.”
Byleth’s eyes are so marred with tears, her voice wavers when it’s her turn.
“I vow to love you, protect you, and stand by you. Now and forever. Finding you was like finding a piece of me I always knew was missing. Thank you for being there for me when I needed someone, for being my shoulder to cry on and the one to make me laugh even in the darkest times. My anamchara,” she says the word with that cute accent that always makes Claude’s heart hammer on his chest, “I love you more than I ever thought it to be possible. I promise to give you all I am, and to be your friend, your lover and your family. Now and forever.”
Claude’s lips quiver at her vow, and as they exchange their rings, both of their hands shake at their overjoyed anticipation of a life together at last.
At the sound of all their friends’ cheer, Claude pulls Byleth against his chest by her waist, and they share the purest of smiles before he leans down to kiss her with all the love he can muster.
Pulling their lips apart, Claude still can’t let go of his wife. Wife. He thinks the word to himself over and over, adoring the feel of it, only to have his thoughts interrupted by her small voice whispering against his neck.
“What is it?” He senses her hesitation and tilts her head up with a gentle finger under her chin. She knows she can tell him whatever, he’ll still be there for her.
His smile falters for a moment, but before Byleth can even look away, he breaks out in laughter, and pulls her even closer, lifting her as he spins around hugging her, which is enough for her to loosen up and laugh alongside him, both basking on the joy of the chance of starting their own family.
Today is, without a shadow of doubt, the best day in Claude’s life.
And as they walk down the aisle into their new life, they know they’ll love each other until the end of this world.